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Creativity in China: the UK sets the pace with GFest

BritCham / CBBC
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The UK’s GREAT Festival of Creativity (2-4 March 2015) took Shanghai by storm. From design, fashion and entertainment to education, healthcare and luxury retail, the success of the three-day showcase on the Bund is expected to boost British business to the tune of £150 million in the next five years.
The Duke of Cambridge starred as he met Chinese luminaries including business giants Jack Ma (Alibaba), Wang Jianlin (Dalian Wanda) and Yuan Yafei (Sanpower) and celebrities such as film director Zhang Yimou and TV star Chen Luyu, not to mention our own Paddington Bear and Shaun the Sheep – all of which ensured a healthy dose of local publicity. The UK Government was represented by Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Sajid Javid and Minister of State for Trade and Investment Lord Livingston.
“I think the festival has positioned the UK very well both as a heritage brand and a forward-looking one. It’s shown that the UK’s leading role in creativity has succeeded in putting us front of mind for many leading Chinese influencers.”
Brent Hoberman CBE
Co-founder, Founders Forum; Ambassador for British Business
CBBC at the heart of the action
Education and employability
On 3 March, CBBC’s chairman Lord Sassoon participated in a forum looking at “Preparing Graduates for Work in a Global Environment” and how to equip British and Chinese graduates with skills that meet the needs of global employers in a demanding and rapidly evolving market. It is imperative that graduates are prepared to compete in business, he stressed.
Royal visit to launch the British Centre
Prince William officially launched the British Centre in Shanghai on 4 March, where he stopped to chat with CBBC’s GFest team. The centre is home to the China-Britain Business Council as well as the British Consulate-General Shanghai, UK Trade & Investment, the British Council and the Welsh Government. It was designed to enable the British business community in Shanghai to engage more closely with these key UK organisations in one location. British Centres are also located in Beijing, Chengdu and Guangzhou to form a network covering north, south, east and west China.
Film and retail delegations
Eighteen companies from the British Film Institute and nine from the Royal Warrant Holders Association made important connections in these key growth areas for UK-China partnerships. The BFI delegates attended a reception organised by Shanghai Film Group as well as the Chinese première of Paddington. The RWHA members took part in a specially arranged event for Chinese media and potential business partners (retailers, distributors, independent boutiques and e-commerce channels). A tailored networking forum was organised for retail-sector delegates after the festival, on 6 March.
Featured highlights
UK-China Year of Cultural Exchange launched
Prince William began his visit by applying the finishing touch – a pair of eyeballs – to a sculpture of Shaun the Sheep at the British Council in Beijing to officially launch the UK-China Year of Cultural Exchange.
Senior-level relationships strengthened
Lord Sassoon met important contacts at the forefront of UK-China business including Richard Wu, CEO of Sunpower Group, the Taiwanese manufacturer with UK headquarters in Berkshire, and Frank Slevin, chairman of House of Fraser.
Birmingham-Shanghai direct flights announced
Birmingham Airport signed an agreement with China’s Caissa Touristic to start new flights from Birmingham to Shanghai with Hainan Airlines, which will help bring Chinese tourists to the Midlands.
Smart cities under discussion
Prince William participated in the Smart Cities Forum on 3 March, giving a keynote speech and discussing with students how healthcare, transport and social media can combine to benefit China in the development of smart cities.
CBBC experts on hand
CBBC staff at the festival set up a special reception desk of cross-sector business advisors to assist visitors over the three days.
“We’ve had a fantastic response”: what the participants said
“To have this platform is absolutely perfect for us and it’s opened up entire new industries. We’ve started several conversations about having a permanent partnership in China on the back of the past two days.”
Alex Poulson
CEO, INDE Appshaker
"We've had a fantastic response from Chinese business leaders. There's a real desire to develop strong partnerships between UK and Chinese business.”
Richard Oldfield
Head of Strategy, PricewaterhouseCoopers
“As creators of bespoke products, connecting with individuals is crucial to the success of our business. The GREAT Festival of Creativity has given us a key avenue to people in China.”
Howard Sansome
CEO, Aryma Marquetry
“I feel that the UK and China have a phenomenal opportunity to create partnerships and do business together. It makes me proud to be British.”
Kelly Hoppen MBE
Ambassador, GREAT Campaign
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